The Schnittke quarter…Let me hear it again
It the tape still works. A slow start,
Faraway chords—or is it the dust and static
Traveling, in my Sony, even further
Than these disembodied sounds
Out of Russia, the pluckings,
The pizzicatos, the mad mazurkas
Shot through with sadness, the great sadness
Of northern plains, of freezing skies
Unceasingly grey, for months on end,
Of wooden cattle-barns collapsed on themselves
And silver birches, lining the road
To the horizon…
That was the first time—
And I listen again, more carefully.
Invisible fingers, plucking imaginary chords.
Coldness, depth. Great spaces,
None of them physical. I am here,
Alone, in the warmth of another kitchen,
And for all I know, the baking fish,
The steamed potatoes, the blue and white tiles
Snug as a Russian stove, to while away
Winter in, my seventh winter
Of apprenticeship, might be telling me
To let go at last, to be free. A drizzle of violins—
Or is it the batteries bleeding?
A snow of quotations, ironic of course,
From the fathers of harmony,
Melting, melting away
To everyday chaos, and through it a phone
Insistently ringing, a sound from another world—
My longdistance call. I knew I was waiting for something.